Smiles And Excitement About The M13 Previews

M13 is coming. Are you excited? Bennie Smith is excited. Read on to see what has his set his Commander heart a-flutter from the new Core Set!

Life’s got a cruel sense of humor. The previous Friday I had off, I went up to play Standard at Friday Night Magic and had a really miserable time. Last Friday, I resolved instead to just stick with playing Commander and hope I could have some fun. Richmond Comix has Draft for FNM, and I drafted some weeks back and had a good time, but this time I had decided to stick with a purely casual night.

Now, the way Comix does drafts is that at the end of the night everyone plays, once the tournament is over, everyone puts their mythics, rares and foils on the table. FNM foils get added to the mix, along with whatever other prizes Comix wants to sweeten the pot with, and the cards get drafted in rank order how you finished up. It takes rare drafting out of the equation and lets everyone focusing on trying to draft the best deck they can. It’s cheaper, too, since there are no prize packs to worry about, and everyone seems to like it.

The last time I drafted, the mythic/rare card pool was pretty thin. First place got a Cavern of Souls, second (me) got a Griselbrand. There wasn’t much after that.

This time, as I played Commander, people kept coming up and adding cards to the prize pool when they finished for the night. The pool was absolutely insane — two Cavern of Souls, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded, Bonfire of the Damned, Entreat the Angels, Temporal Mastery, Restoration Angel, Zealous Conscripts, a foil Alchemist’s Refuge —  granted, there were more people drafting this time than when I drafted, but come on!  It really made me regret not getting in on the draft.

Still, I did get in a couple games of Commander. I brought Mean Hippo, Riku, and Phage, but someone else at the table was playing Riku so I started out with Mean Hippo. The deck lived up to its name, with me getting out a quick Stonecloaker and Finest Hour (and eventually Battlegrace Angel) and beating down pretty hard. I spread the aggression around the table and earned quite a few grumbles about being not at all "Bennie-like" in my deck choice this time, especially once I slammed down Proteus Staff. I tried to blame it on the mean hippo, but nobody bought it. Eventually, somebody wiped the board, but then Bear, running a mono-white Mikaeus, the Lunarch deck, cast Angel of Glory’s Rise and got back a ton of Humans on the board, and then miracled Entreat the Angels the next turn for several Angels. Suddenly, he had an insane army in play. Next turn, Tommy cast Avenger of Zendikar to prime up his Gaea’s Cradle, then cast Tooth and Nail with entwine to get Urabrask the Hidden and Phyrexian Metamorph (copying his Avenger of Zendikar). He topped it off with Titanic Ultimatum and swung for a million, killing me and another player, leaving Bear with single digits and himself with somewhere around 200 life.

Talk about haymakers! Not a bad way to recover from an empty board!

Bear was actually able to muster around 120 points of damage on a counterattack, but that wasn’t enough to finish off Tommy and he was not going to be able to stop the horde of Plant tokens coming the following turn.

The next game I picked up my Phage deck and had a silly start — turn 1 Sol Ring, turn 2 Solemn Simulacrum, turn 3 Dread. I then proceeded to spread Dread around the table all scary-like, taking six point chucks of life out of everyone before they were able to do much to stop him. Along the way, I dropped Dark Depths as a backup plan once Dread was dealt with.

Eventually people started catching up with me and surpassing my shenanigans with insane setups of their own. Josh’s Riku deck got Seedborn Muse, Alchemist’s Refuge, Eternal Witness and Deadeye Navigator into play — yeah, that’s an insane setup!  To add to the mix, he cast Stitch in Time several times, earning an extra turn, on his extra turn he cast Acquire, taking my Platinum Angel from me, then on Jess’s turn he cast Stitch in Time again (thanks, Alchemist’s Refuge!), lost the roll, blinked Witness to get it back, cast it again, lost the roll, did the loop again and cast it again and (thankfully) lost the roll.

It was finally my turn and I could untap. See, I had an answer to Josh’s otherwise insane lock but I’d tapped out to do something on my last turn and was pretty sure I was never getting another turn. Thanks to some lucky die rolls (or unlucky if you’re Josh), I had a small window. During my upkeep, maintaining priority before Josh could do anything I cast Sudden Spoiling, targeting him. Hooray for split second!  I then cast Hero’s Demise on Nicole’s Ryusei to deal 5 points of damage to all non-fliers, which wiped Josh’s board clean. I then sent Dread after him hard, and killed him shortly thereafter.

Nicole managed to kill my Dread with a Mordant Dragon (killing itself in the process) but I’d been paying the iron price on my Dark Depths for a while, so Marit Lage came out to play and I managed to ride her to victory. None of my toys to let Phage come out to play made an appearance, but I’ve got plenty of other baskets to put my eggs in. It had been quite a while since I chalked up a victory in Commander.

Anyway, let’s pivot a bit from the past to the future, specifically the future of Magic — Magic 2013!  The previews and spoilers have been pouring out on the internet and I have to say I’ve seen quite a lot that’s got me smiling, so let’s get excited!

Serra Avatar

Wow, what a cool reprint!  I remember it was one of the more expensive rares way back in the day, and I never had the good fortune of opening one out of a booster pack, and never traded for one until the price had really shot up. I’ve always wanted to have one for my Commander card pool, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to nab one now. It’s funny, in my mind this card always struck me as something that you’d only cheat into play with Sneak Attack, because the casting cost was just prohibitive back then. Now, seven mana isn’t really all that much of a stretch, and once we enter the post-Titan era…I’m not necessarily sure that a vanilla, potentially gigantic creature will "get there" in Standard, but it’s much more viable now to hard cast a seven than it was back in the day. Kudos to Wizards for realizing that this card could be just fine coming back into Standard.

Sublime Archangel

I know four mana in white has some steep competition (*cough*Restoration Angel*cough*) but this card looks like a beating!  I’m picturing turn 1 Birds of Paradise, turn 2 Avacyn’s Pilgrim + Strangleroot Geist (swing), turn 3 Sublime Archangel and swing with a 6/5 Strangleroot. BAM!  That’s some big beats. Turn 4 Wolfir Silverheart, swing with 13/12 Sublime Archangel? Sign me up!  Great artwork, too…

Talrand, Sky Summoner

There’s a cycle of four-mana legends in M13, and I have to give props to Wizards for showing such restraint in not making the blue one insane. In fact, I’m pretty sure this won’t be seen in Standard and instead will quickly find a home at the casual table. But man, what bad-ass artwork!  No wonder the drakes come when he calls, if they don’t obey he chops off their head and makes a hat out of ’em!

Xathrid Gorgon

Digging the flavor — she petrifies the creature, and it becomes an artifact — so it can be Shattered and destroyed, just like a statue. Cool stuff!  Too clunky and expensive for Standard, but I’m sure it’ll be a big hit in Commander, especially given how splashable it is.

Krenko, Mob Boss

This could potentially really spit out a lot of goblins fast in conjunction with Goblin Warchief or some of the other goblins that give haste. Big casual appeal, maybe a shot at Legacy?


I saw some folks on Twitter suggest that this card should be banned in Commander, and there was a thread on Facebook calling it decidedly PG-13 names due to the mass land destruction element. I disagree with both of these assessments. The problem I’ve had with previous cards of this type is that they reset the game, or even worse, leave you in a deep hole, but leaving everyone’s life totals alone means that those games drag on and on because no one has the resources to quickly end the game. Those games are just miserable. Worldfire sets everyone at one life which makes all the difference — it’s like everyone’s put into "sudden death" where even the smallest topdeck could end you. Yes, you can do some shenanigans with suspend but I think mostly it just gives red decks a way to win the unwinnable games.

Elderscale Wurm

This is just a grade-A kick-ass cool card. First of all, yep, that’s seven 7s on the card (if you don’t count the 4GGG casting cost as seven) which is pretty sweet. But what makes it just super cool is somehow taking the flavor of Worship, washing it down with a taste of Form of the Dragon, and stapling it onto the back of a 7/7 trampling beatstick. I have no idea if it’s going to make an impact in post-Titan Standard, but being a 7/7 trampler certainly gives it a decent shot. I mean, what’s a non-black or —white deck going to do about this guy?

Yeva, Nature’s Herald

Last but not least, we have this slice of awesomesauce!  Longtime readers of my column will have read this preview and likely had my name spring to mind. I used to write a periodic piece called The State of Green where I reviewed new sets in how they succeeded or failed in making green a decent color. Green sucked so badly for so long that when things started turning around folks like me and Jamie Wakefield felt the need to keep Wizards’ feet to the fire lest they let green slip back to being the slow and dumb color of the color pie. I stopped after green got enough goodies regularly enough that people accused me of being too whiny and nitpicky.

Despite growing less vocal in my criticism, my concern has remained because there’s still that strong tendency to make all the "good" green cards ones that you can only cast during your own main phase, which makes them slow and dumb (and vulnerable), relative to what many of the other colors have going on. Giving blue Troll shroud in Innistrad block made me want to claw my eyes out. Yet, there have been some good signs. First was having haste show up on good green cards like Vengevine and Strangleroot Geist. While they’re still locked into the main phase, haste goes a long way towards making those cards much less "slow."

Then we got Wolfir Avenger, a nice little bundle of abilities…including flash!  Now we’re talking — fast, flexible, able to be cast at the last possible moment!  And this guy has a substantial body, not like wee little Scryb Ranger. Slipping an Avenger onto the battlefield at the end of your opponent’s turn can bring some decent beats!

Now we get Yeva, Nature’s Herald — Wow!  Another good size body with flash, but even better she then lets you untap and keep your subsequent green creatures back in your hand, ready to cast only when you need to. How about Wolfir Silverheart as an instant? What a nightmare for your opponent looking for a profitable block!  How about Acidic Slime as an instant? Stingerfling Spider?

I’m hoping that Strangleroot Geist, Wolfir Avenger and Yeva, Nature’s Herald are a sign of what green’s been moving towards — smart, fun and sometimes downright scary.

What cards have you smiling and excited from M13? Hit me up in the forums!

Have a great weekend!  My kids visitation falls on this Father’s Day weekend, so I’m going to have a great time!

Take care,


starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com

Make sure to follow my Twitter feed (@blairwitchgreen). I check it often so feel free to send me feedback, ideas, and random thoughts. I’ve also created a Facebook page where I’ll be posting up deck ideas and will happily discuss Magic, life, or anything else you want to talk about!

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